Tonight is the night. Both the Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers are going to lay it all out on the line tonight in game 1 of the 2014 Stanley Cup Finals. Twenty years of waiting from Rangers camp has finally payed off, while the Kings look for their 2nd cup in 3 seasons. This series could go either way, but I think whoever wins tonight will take the series. The reason being that both of these teams have exhausted a lot of emotion, and the winner will take a serious advantage in the mental aspect of things.
I don't think that fatigue will be a factor; for the main reason being that the Kings have only played one more game than the rangers so far during these NHL Playoffs. Everyone wants to look at the goaltender matchup, and while that is a vital part of the series, I think the top two defenseman for each team will be the key to tonight's game and beyond. Defenseman Ryan Mcdonagh for the Rangers and Defenseman Drew Doughty for the Kings are the the two that bear the most watching. The winner between this matchup will bode extremely well for their team and will likely result in a victory for their respective bunch. Mcdonagh and Doughty are so important because they can wreck a game with their offense, not just their defense. Whoever is more potent on the rush and the forecheck will greatly help his team.
With that being said, everyone is fixated on Quick vs. Lundqvist. The reason I feel that the Rangers have the edge tonight is solely because of the Rangers net minder. He has been fantastic, and he will neutralize all of the odd man rushes that the Kings creates simply by stopping almost every shot that comes his way. The Rangers take more chances with the King in net, and even though they may get burned, they are confident with who is behind them.
If the Rangers can neutralize the King's speed in any way, their chances of winning go up astronomically. We all know that the Kings are going to come out firing on all cylinders during the first ten minutes of the game, so if the Rangers can weather that storm, they should have a very good chance at stealing game 1 tonight.
My Prediction: Rangers 3, Kings 2. The Rangers and Kings will be deadlocked at 2-2 in the third when Brian Boyle will give the Rangers the lead on a rebound opportunity. Quick and Lundqvist will be at the top of their games, but the Rangers will be a step ahead.